Heavy weekend rainstorms and subsequent flooding have forced thousands of people in the Nashville area to evacuate their homes with hundreds of residents rescued by boat and canoe. Flash floods were responsible for the deaths of 10 people in Nashville and eight other residents in Tennessee. One other person in western Tennessee was killed by a tornado. The storms have also affected neighboring states, killing six people in Mississippi and four in Kentucky.
Downtown Nashville businesses in a 24-square-block area lost electricity early this morning and a spokeswoman for Nashville Electric Service says the power is expected to be out the rest of the week. About 50 Nashville schools were damaged along with hundreds of homes, the Country Music Hall of Fame and LP Field.
The flooding of The Grand Ole Opry House has hit country artists and fans hard.
“We’ve all been affected by it,” Grand Ole Opry member Dierks Bentley said. “There’s devastation all over the city. But to see the Grand Ole Opry affected, that just really hit home for me, even more than having water in my house.”
Tonight’s Opry performances, featuring Chris Young, Marty Stuart and Suzy Bogguss, will now take place at the War Memorial Auditorium. This weekend’s Opry performances have been moved to the Ryman Auditorium. Friday features Ricky Skaggs, Dailey & Vincent and Janie Fricke. On Saturday Emily West takes the stage along with Lee Greenwood.
“While we ourselves are shaken by the impact of the flooding of the Opry House and throughout the area, it is important that Nashville’s most treasured tradition continues with this week’s show,” said Grand Ole Opry Vice President Pete Fisher.
The Associated Press noted that although it is unclear exactly how much water seeped into the Opry House, pictures of the stage door showed water had risen above the doorknob. The venue, which many consider the heart of country music, is part of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel complex. As of early Monday, flooding inside the nearby hotel had reached about 10 feet.
According to a statement from the Opry House, it is too early to tell how long Opry operations will be affected at this time. Opry backstage tours and visiting hours at the Grand Ole Opry Museum have been temporarily suspended.
This is the second time the Opry has been forced to relocated shows because of the Cumberland River flooding. Monday evening the river topped out at 51.9 feet, about 12 feet above flood stage and the highest it’s reached since 1937. Back in 1975 the Cumberland River flooding relocated shows to Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.
The floods also forced Bentley to cancel Sunday’s show in Knoxville, Tenn., and Monday’s gig in Charlottesville, Va. The country artist, who posted a picture on Twitter of his flooded basement, said he hoped to reschedule both dates soon.
The Goo Goo Dolls’ Sunday show at the Ryman Auditorium was rescheduled for Monday. Ticket holders that couldn’t make it to last night’s show can get refunds at the point-of-purchase until Friday, May 7 at 5 p.m.
Because so many roads around Nashville were closed due to the flooding, Alison Krauss & Union Station and John Hiatt had to cancel their Sunday performances at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tenn.
Click here for the Grand Old Opry House’s official website.